I recently realized this truth which seems both contradictory and obvious at the same time. Box and the other cloud vendors aren’t disrupting the industry because they are Cloud/Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) vendors, they are disrupting it because they put people ahead of the Enterprise.
Think on it a minute. I talked about this in my AIIM keynote but I didn’t link it all together. SaaS may be the disruptive technology but it is the ease-of-use built into the applications themselves that is giving them market share.
The SharePoint “Disruption”
Take a look back at the history of SharePoint. It came into the Content Management market with such great force that people called it a disruptive technology. The problem with that theory is that the technology wasn’t special or disruptive. What gave Microsoft such a boost in market share was that it was easy to setup and use.
Flash-forward to today and you see Microsoft having the same challenges as the vendors they “disrupted”. Like them, Microsoft is taking SharePoint to the cloud to defend their place in the industry.
Why the failure by Microsoft to sustain its momentum?
Simple. Microsoft didn’t fully understand their advantage and they became more like their competitors over time. Their system became complex, cumbersome, and challenging to upgrade. Just like their traditional rivals, Microsoft now has installations that are running on 10-year-old versions because upgrading is too challenging.
The Cloud’s Disruption
Now there are new vendors that are trying to do the same thing that SharePoint did, but better. Best exemplified by Box, they are trying to make Content Management easy, usable, and, most importantly, adopted. So far, Box is succeeding.
Why might Box and their compatriots succeed where Microsoft failed? Their combination of the focus on the user and SaaS.
The weakness that SharePoint shared with their predecessors was the increasing complexity of the system as it added features and had to scale. Specialized servers were needed and teams of administrators were required to maintain the system.
The SaaS vendors solved that problem. Clients don’t have to manage the server technology, just the people and the processes. Now when clients want new features, they appear. There is no long window of waiting for test deployments and upgrade scripts.
I hate upgrade scripts.
This leaves us with user friendly applications that are readily updated and easy to support. From a Content Management perspective it is a win-win.
Box is disrupting because they focus on the people using the application. SaaS is the the disruptive delivery mechanism that enables the spread of their solution.
One Last Challenge
All IT vendors are being disrupted in this fashion, not just Content Management. Ease-of-use is driving adoption in a viral nature that is almost unheard of in the space.
When was the last time you had to force users to STOP using a Content Management product?
The challenge ahead is for Box and their fellow cloud vendors to meet the advanced needs of the Enterprise without losing the very thing that is powering their market disruption…
An un-erring focus on the user.